Dear friends, How can it possibly be 2021 already? Last year was truly one of the most unexpected of our life, and yet with it, God gave so many blessings as well. In this letter, we hope to summarize activities, outline goals, detail progress toward specific goals, and report on needs from this past year.
ACTIVITIES: This year contained many surprises for the vast majority of the world’s population. However, this year was similar to previous years in some ways: preaching three services per week, other short devotionals, men´s and women’s discipleship groups, personal discipleship, outreach, and evangelism.
We normally visit the nearby tribal villages of Boca Inambari (an Amarakaere village where there is now a body of believers and a leader, Joel) and Santa Teresita (a Yine village), while we also have Segundo visit Tpishca, another Yine village further away, but most of those visits were canceled. This year, however, we sponsored and taught a modular Bible training class and had good attendance and growth.
We hosted a few teams and individuals, and saw great fruit at times, including an amazing medical team in February, which helped us reach out to six different needy villages along the Piedras river. The medical campaigns have been a major part of the multiple church plants in other jungle towns and a big boost here too! Segundo, our tribal missionary-in-training, has continued working in needy hearts and families around the city for the past 5+ years, and he has seen a few professions of faith, although the work is slow.
One of the largest and longest activities, which was obviously not planned by us, was the emergency food relief program. We were able to channel nearly 25,000 bags of food to needy families during the seven months of the quarantine here. I preached the Gospel hundreds of times right here in my front yard, and many responded with professions of faith!
GOALS: In 2020, we continued to focus on making more disciples of Jesus. Although there are lots of methods and gimmicks out there to promote church growth, we believe the main thing is making more disciple makers. Our goal is to see God glorified by reaching the lost, making disciples of Jesus, and training those disciples to do the work of the ministry.
We also planned to purchase the church property for the long-term growth and stability of the church. We received many generous gifts of all sizes, and were able to negotiate the price from $350k down to about $280k for the property which we were renting for nearly 10 years. We planned to have architectural plans drawn, acquire the permits, get some building quotes, and then start building after the rainy season was over! Although all of that took longer than we expected, we are very grateful for the progress. We rejoice that the church chose new officers, and elected its first two deacons!
PROGRESS TOWARD GOALS: We are thankful to report that although several families moved away, we now have more people involved in serving every week, and we are seeing them grow as they serve. We will again be holding leadership training classes, Lord-willing.
Several members are holding Bible studies in different areas and many are spontaneously sharing the Gospel. Sara, a church member, who has now graduated from Bible college in Cusco is working with us as she pursues a medical degree in order to be of more use to the Lord! Maritza was Sara´s classmate and just arrived for a year-long internship with us as well.
Sofia is a church member studying in the Bible college in Trujillo, and is here serving with us during the break. We now have Bible clubs and gospel-preaching works in multiple places and requests for help in several more areas.
We are thankful to report that we have several teams interested in flying down to work here, although CV-19 continues to make things uncertain! We are praying that God would send some other groups to help us build during the summer and fall months. The footers, foundation, floor, columns, and exterior walls for the church-buildings first floor are nearly done. We are about to pour the second floor of the church building, and the folks are getting excited!
NEEDS: 1. We are praying for the construction of the property to go through without a hitch. We still need to raise at least $10k for the floors and electrical components. 2. There is a group here (pictured below) who is trying to wrangle the property away. Since they have been unsuccessful, they are resorting to misinformation and trouble-making.
3. We are praying about whom God would have to pastor during our fall furlough and subsequently long term. We truly need wisdom and for God to provide. 4. The sink hole near our house seems to be stable after the temporary drains were built, but is now less than 70 feet away, so that is on our minds at times. 5. Our house has had significant leaks during every heavy rain, which caused wood rot. It will need some major repairs soon.
6. Our hearts still yearn to evangelize the unreached tribes, and although they are appearing on the riverbanks at times, God has made it clear that it is not yet time for us to move into the interior jungle. We continue visiting and building ties with the tribes as we can.
In Christ alone, Buddy and Loren
P.S. Please pray for funds and strength for our national co-workers, who often make do with a lot less.